Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schiltz

Thirteen year old Lizzie Rose and eleven year old Parsefall are two orphans who have been taken in by Grisini, an ominous master puppeteer. The story begins with Grisini and his wards performing at young Clara Wintermute’s 12th birthday party.  The night of the party, Clara goes missing and Grisini is suspected to be her kidnapper. No solid evidence can be found to implicate Grisini, but Clara’s father is certain he has a part in the kidnapping.  

Shortly after this initial event, Grisini goes missing. He has been summoned by Cassandra, a witch with whom he has had a longtime magical rivalry.   He leaves Lizzie Rose, Parsefall, and all of his puppets with the land lady.  While trying to make enough money to earn their keep, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall discover a new puppet in their trunk that shockingly looks exactly like Clara.  While they struggle to believe that Clara could have been transformed into a puppet, they cannot help but wonder what powers Grisini may possess.  

Lizzie Rose and Parsefall soon receive a letter from Cassandra, inviting them to visit her before she dies and possibly be left an inheritance.  With nowhere left to go, the orphans decide to visit this strange lady in hopes of finding a safe haven.  Little do they know that Grisini is staying in Cassandra’s gatehouse and that they are in danger of becoming mixed up in more magic than they ever thought existed.  

My Thoughts:
In this novel, Laura Amy Schiltz does a great job of weaving multiple story lines into one final and connected story. In the beginning Clara’s disappearance is the focus, but soon it seems that Clara is forgotten as Lizzie Rose and Parsefall attempt to survive on their own.  Clara soon resurfaces and becomes a main player in helping the two orphans escape the evil  magic of Grisini and Cassandra. 

This novel is technically a children’s book and has just won a Newbery Honor Award.  I personally enjoy reading children’s novels and thought that this was an excellent book. Pick this one up for yourself or recommend it for an upper elementary or middle grade kid that enjoys reading fantasy. 

3 thoughts on “Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schiltz

  1. Just finished this one! It was a good one. Very well done. Not sure if I would want my 4th grader to read it yet, though. It's pretty dark and gruesome at times-maybe when she's in middle school.

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